"Quærit Franciscus Valesius, Delrio,
Gutierrus, et alii,
unde vulgaris ilia fascini nata sit opinio de oculo fascinante
visione et ore fascinando laudando." De Faseinatione
Fatatus. A. D. 1677.
To recall bygone memories or imperfectly remembered sensations, scenes and experiences or images.
This is a difficult thing to describe, and no wonder, since it forms the greatest and most trying task of all poets to depict that which really depends for its charm on association, emotion and a chiaroscuro of the feelings. We have all delightful reminiscences which make ridiculous Dante's assertion that
"There is no greater grief than to recall in pain
The happy days gone by;"
which, if true, would make it a matter of regret that we ever had a happy hour. However, I assume that it is a great pleasure to recall, even in grief, beautiful bygone scenes and joys, and trust that the reader has a mind healthy and cheerful enough to do the same.
What constitutes a charm in many memories is often extremely varied. Darkly shaded rooms with shutters closed in on an intensely hot American summer day. Chinese matting on the floors the mirrors and picture frames covered with tulle silence the scent of magnolias all over the house the presence of loved ones now long dead and gone all of these combined form to me memory-pictures in which nothing can be spared. The very scent of the flowers is like musk in a perfume or "bouquet" of odors it fixes them well, or renders them permanent. And it is all like a beautiful vivid dream. If I had my life to live over again I would do frequently and with great care, what I thought of too late, and now practice feebly I would strongly impress on my mind and very often recall, many such scenes, pictures, times or memories. Very few people do this. Hence in all novels and poems, especially the French, description generally smacks of imitation and mere manufacture. It passes for "beautiful writing," but there is always something in really unaffected truth from nature which is caught by the true critic. I read lately a French romance which is much admired, of this manufactured or second-hand kind. Every third page was filled with the usual botany, rocks, skies, colors, fore and backgrounds "all very fine" but in the whole of it not one of those little touches of truth which stir us so in SHAKESPEARE, make us smile in HERRICK or naïve PEPYS, or raise our hearts in WORDSWORTH. These were true men.
To be true we must be far more familiar with Nature than with scene painting or photographs, and to do this we must, so to speak, fascinate ourselves with pictures in life, glad memories of golden hours, rock and river and greenwood tree. We must also banish resolutely from our past all recollections of enemies and wrongs, troubles and trials, and throw all our heart into doing so. Forgive and forget all enmities those of Misfortune and Fate being included. Depend upon it that the brighter you can make your Past the pleasanter will be your Future.
This is just the opposite to what most people do, hence the frequent and fond quotation of pessimistic poetry. It is all folly, and worse. One result is that in modern books of travel the only truthful or vivid descriptions are of sufferings of all kinds, even down to inferior luncheons and lost hair brushes. Their joys they sketch with an indifferent skill, like HEINE'S monk, who made rather a poor description of Heaven, but was "gifted in Hell," which he depicted with dreadful vigor.
I find it a great aid to recall what I can of bygone beautiful associations, and then sleep on them with a resolve that they shall recur in complete condition. He who will thus resolutely clean up his past life and clear away from it all sorrow as well as he can, and refurnish it with beautiful memories, or make it better, coûte que coûte, will do himself more good than many a doleful moral adviser ever dreamed of. This is what I mean by self-fascination the making, as it were, by magic art, one's own past and self more charming than we ever deemed it possible to be. We thus fascinate ourselves. Those who believe that everything which is bygone has gone to the devil are in a wretched error. The future is based on the past yes, made from it, and that which was never dies, but returns to bless or grieve. We mostly wrong our past bitterly, and bitterly does it revenge itself. But it is like the lion of ANDROCLES, it remembers those who treat it kindly. "And lo! when ANDROCLES was thrown to the lion to be devoured, the beast lay down at his feet, and licked his hands." Yes, we have all our lions!
To master difficult meanings. It has often befallen me, when I was at the University, or later when studying law, to exert my mind to grasp, and all in vain, some problem in mathematics or a puzzling legal question, or even to remember some refractory word in a foreign language which would not remain in the memory. After a certain amount of effort in many of these cases, further exertion is injurious, the mind or receptive power seems to be seized as if nauseated with spasmodic rejections. In such a case pass the question by, but on going to bed, think it over and will to understand it on the morrow. It will often suffice to merely desire that it shall recur in more intelligible form in which case, nota bene if let alone it will obey. This is as if we had a call to make tomorrow, when, as we know, the memory will come at its right time of itself, especially if we employ Forethought or special pressure.
When I reflect on what I once endured from this cause, and how greatly it could have been relieved or alleviated, I feel as if I could beg, with all my heart, every student or teacher of youth to seriously experiment on what I set forth in this book. It is also to be observed, especially by metaphysicians and mental philosophers, that a youth who has shown great indifference to, let us say mathematics, if he has manifested an aptitude for philosophy or languages, will be in all cases certain to excel in the former, if he can be brought to make a good beginning in it. A great many cases of bad, i. e., indifferent scholarship, are due to bad teaching of the rudiments by adults who took no interest in their pupils, and therefore inspired none.
To determine what course to follow in any Emergency. Many a man often wishes with all his heart that he had some wise friend to consult in his perplexities. What to do in a business trouble when we are certain that there is an exit if we could only find it a sure way to tame an unruly horse if we had the secret to do or not to do whate'er the question truly all this causes great trouble in life. But, it is within the power of man to be his own friend, yes, and companion, to a degree of which none have ever dreamed, and which borders on the weird, or that which forebodes or suggests mysteries to come. For it may come to pass that he who has trained himself to it, may commune with his spirit as with a companion.
This is, of course, done by just setting the problem, or question, or dilemma, before ourselves as clearly as we can, so as to know our own minds as well as possible. This done, sleep on it, with the resolute will to have it recur on the morrow in a clear and solved form. And should this occur, do not proceed to pull it to pieces again, by way of improvement, but rather submit it to another night's rest. I would here say that many lawyers and judges are perfectly familiar with this process, and use it habitually, without being aware of its connection with hypnotism or will. But they could aid it, if they would add this peculiar impulse to the action.
What I will now discuss approaches the miraculous, or seems to do so because it has been attempted or treated in manifold ways by sorcerers and witches. The Voodoos, or black wizards in America, profess to be able to awaken love in one person for another by means of incantations, but admit that it is the most difficult of their feats. Nor do I think that there is any infallible recipe for it, but that there are means of honestly aiding such affection can hardly be denied. In the first place, he who would be loved must love for that is no honest love which is not sincere. And having thus inspired himself, and made himself as familiar as possible, by quietly observing as dispassionately as may be all the mental characteristics of the one loved, let him with an earnest desire to know how to secure a return, go to sleep, and see whether the next day will bring a suggestion. And as the old proverb declares that luck comes to many when least hoped for, so will it often happen that forethought is thus fore-bought or secured.
It is known that gifts pass between friends or lovers, to cause the receiver to think of the giver, thus they are in a sense amulets. If we believe, as HEINE prettily suggests, that something of the life or the being of the owner or wearer has passed into the talisman, we are not far off from the suggestion that our feelings are allied. All over Italy, or over the world, pebbles of precious stone, flint or amber, rough topaz or agate, are esteemed as lucky; all things of the kind lead to suggestiveness, and may be employed in suggestion.
What was originally known as Fascination, of which the German, FROMANN, wrote a very large volume which I possess, is simply Hypnotism without the putting to sleep. It is direct Suggestion. Where there is a natural sympathy of like to like, soul answering soul, such suggestion is easily established. Among people of a common, average, worldly type who are habitually sarcastic, jeering, chaffing, and trifling, or those whose idea of genial or agreeable companionship is to "get a rise" out of all who will give and take irritations equally, there can be no sympathy of gentle or refined emotions. Experiments, whose whole nature presupposes earnest thought, cannot be tried with any success by those who live habitually in an atmosphere of small talk and "rubbishy" associations. Fascination should be mutual; to attempt to exert it on anyone who is not naturally in sympathy is a crime, and I believe that all such cases lead to suffering and remorse.
But where we perceive that there is an undoubted mutual liking and good reason for it, fascination, when perfectly understood and sympathetically used, facilitates and increases love and friendship, and may be most worthily and advantageously employed. Unto anyone who could, for example, merely skim over all that I have written, catching an idea here and there, and then expect to master all, I can clearly say that I can give him or her no definite idea of fascination. For Fascination really is effectively what the old philosophers, who had given immense study and research to the subject in ages when susceptibility to suggestiveness went far beyond anything now known, all knew and declared; that is to say, it existed, but that it required a peculiar mind, and very certainly one which is not frivolous, to understand its nature, and much more to master it.
He who has by foresight, or previous consideration of a subject or desire, allied to a vigorous resolution (which is a kind of projection of the mind by will and then submitting it to sleep), learned how to bring about a wished-for state of mind, has, in a curious manner, made as it were of his hidden self a conquest yet a friend. He has brought to life within himself a Spirit, gifted with greater powers than those possessed by Conscious Intellect. By his astonishing and unsuspected latent power, Man can imagine and then create, even a spirit within the soul. We make at first the sketch, then model it in clay, then cast it in gypsum, and finally sculpture it in marble.
I read lately, in a French novel, a description of a young lady, by herself, in which she assumed to have within her two souls, one good, of which she evidently thought very little, and another brilliantly diabolical, capricious, vividly dramatic and interesting esprit to which she gave a great deal of attention. He who will begin by merely imagining that he has within him a spirit of beauty and light, which is to subdue and extinguish the other or all that is in him of what is low, commonplace, and mean, may bring this idea to exert a marvelous influence. He can increase the conception, and give it reality, by treating it with forethought and will, by suggestion, until it gives marvelous result. This better self may be regarded as a guardian angel, in any case it is a power by means of which we can learn mysteries. It is also our Conscience, born of the perception of Ideals.
The Ideal or Spirit thus evolved should be morally pure, else the experimenter will find, as did the magicians of old, that all who dealt with any but good spirits, fell into the hands of devils, just as ALLAN KARDEC says is the case with Spiritualists. But to speak as clearly as I can, he who succeeds in winning or creating a higher Self within himself, and fascinating it by sympathy, will find that he has, within moral limits, a strange power of fascinating those who are in sympathy with him.
Whereupon many will say "of course." Like and like together strike. Birds of a feather flock together. Similis similibus. But it often happens in this life, though they meet they do not pair off. Very often indeed they meet, but to part. There must be, even where the affinity exists, consideration and forethought to test the affinity. It requires long practice even for keen eyes to recognize the amethyst or topaz, or many other gems, in their natural state as sea-worn pebbles. Now, it is not a matter of fancy, of romance, or imagination, that there are men and women who really have, deeply hidden in their souls, or more objectively manifested, peculiar or beautiful characteristics, or a spirit. I would not speak here merely of naïveté or tenderness a natural affinity for poetry, art, or beauty, but the peculiar tone and manner of it, which is sympathetic to ours. For two people may love music, yet be widely removed from all agreement if one be a Wagnerian, and the other of an older school. Suffice it to say that such similarities of mind or mood, of intellect or emotion do exist, and when they are real, and not imaginary, or merely the result of passional attraction, they suggest and may well attract the use of Fascination.
Those who actually develop within themselves such a spirit, regarding it as one, that is a self beyond self, attain to a power which few understand, which is practical, positive, and real, and not at all a superstitious fancy. It may begin in imagining or fancy, but as the veriest dream is material and may be repeated till we see it visibly and can then copy it, so can we create in ourselves a being, a segregation of our noblest thoughts, a superb abstraction of soul which looks from its sunny mountain height down on the dark and noisome valley which forms our worldly common intellect or mind, or the only one known to by far the majority of mankind, albeit they may have therein glimpses of light and truth. But it is to him who makes for himself, by earnest Will and Thought, a separate and better Life or Self that a better life is given.
Those who possess genius or peculiarly cultivated minds of a highly moral caste, gifted with pure integrity, and above vulgarity and worldly commonplace habits, should never form a tie in friendship or love without much forethought. And then if the active agent has disciplined his mind by self-hypnotism until he can control or manage his Will with ease, he will know without further instruction how to fascinate, and that properly and legitimately.
Those who now acquire this power are few and far between, and when they really possess it they make no boast nor parade, but rather keep it carefully to themselves, perfectly content with what it yields for reward. And here I may declare something in which I firmly believe, yet which very few I fear will understand as I mean it. If this fascination and other faculties like it may be called Magical (albeit all is within the limits of science and matter), then there are assuredly in this world magicians whom we meet without dreaming that they are such. Here and there, however rare, there is mortal who has studied deeply but
"Softened all and tempered into beauty;
And blended with lone thoughts and wanderings,
The quest of hidden knowledge, and a mind
To love the universe."
Such beings do not come before the world, but hide their lights, knowing well that their magic would defeat itself, and perish if it were made common. Any person of the average worldly cast who could work any miracles, however small, would in the end bitterly regret it if he allowed it to be known. Thus I have read ingenious stories, as for instance one by HOOD, showing what terrible troubles a man fell into by being able to make himself invisible. Also another setting forth the miseries of a successful alchemist. The Algonquin Indians have a legend of a man who came to grief and death through his power of making all girls love him. But the magic of which I speak is of a far more subtle and deeply refined nature, and those who possess it are alone in life, save when by some rare chance they meet their kind. Those who are deeply and mysteriously interested in any pursuit for which the great multitude of all-alike people have no sympathy, who have peculiar studies and subjects of thought, partake a little of the nature of the magus. Magic, as popularly understood, has no existence, it is a literal myth for it means nothing but what amazes or amuses for a short time. No miracle would be one if it became common. Nature is infinite, therefore its laws cannot be violated ergo, there is no magic if we mean by that an inexplicable contravention of law.
But that there are minds who have simply advanced in knowledge beyond the multitude in certain things which cannot at once be made common property is true, for there is a great deal of marvelous truth not as yet dreamed of even by HERBERT SPENCERS or EDISONS, by RONTGENS or other scientists. And yet herein is hidden the greatest secret of future human happenings.
"What I was is passed by,
What I am away doth fly;
What I shall be none do see,
Yet in that my glories be."
Now to illustrate this more clearly. Some of these persons who are more or less secretly addicted to magic (I say secretly, because they cannot make it known if they would), take the direction of feeling or living with inexpressible enjoyment in the beauties of nature. That, they attain to something almost or quite equal to life in Fairyland, is conclusively proved by the fact that only very rarely, here and there in their best passages, do the greatest poets more than imperfectly and briefly convey some broken idea or reflection of the feelings which are excited by thousands of subjects in nature in many. The Mariana of TENNYSON surpasses anything known to me in any language as conveying the reality of feeling alone in a silent old house, where everything is a dim, uncanny manner, recalled the past yet suggested a kind of mysterious presence as in the passage:
"All day within the dreary house
The doors upon their hinges creaked,
The blue fly sang in the pane, the mouse
Behind the mouldering wainscot shrieked,
Or from the crevice peered about;
Old faces glimmered thro' the doors,
Old footsteps trod the upper floors,
Old voices called her from without."
Yet even this unsurpassed poem does no more than partially revive and recall the reality to me of similar memories of long, long ago, when an invalid child I was often left in a house entirely alone, from which even the servants had absented themselves. Then I can remember how after reading the Arabian Nights or some such unearthly romance, as was the mode in the Thirties, the very sunshine stealing craftily and silently like a living thing, in a bar through the shutter, twinkling with dust, as with infinitely small stars, living and dying like sparks, the buzzing of the flies who were little blue imps, with now and then a larger Beelzebub a strange imagined voice ever about, which seemed to say something without words and the very furniture, wherein the chairs were as goblins, and the broom a tall young woman, and the looking-glass a kind of other self-life all of this as I recall it appears to me as a picture of the absence of human beings as described by TENNYSON, plus a strange personality in every object which the poet does not attempt to convey. This is, however, a very small or inferior illustration; there are far more remarkable and deeply spiritual or esthetically-suggestive subjects than this, and that in abundance, which Art has indeed so reproduced as to amaze the many who have only had snatches of such observation themselves.
But the magicians, SHELLEY, or KEATS, or WORDSWORTH, only convey partial echoes of certain subjects, or of their specialties. It is indeed beautiful to feel what Art can do, but the original is worth far more. And if the reader would be such a magician, let him give his heart and will to taking an interest in all that is beautiful, good and true or honest. For that it really can be done in all fullness is true beyond a dream of doubt. By the ordinary methods of learning one may indeed acquire an exact, mechanically drawn picture, which we modify with what beauty chance bestows. But he who will learn by the process which I have endeavored to describe, or by studying with the will, cannot fail to experience a strange enchantment in so doing, as I have read in an Italian tale of a youth who was sadly weary of his lessons, but who, being taken daily by certain kind fairies into their school on a hill, found all difficulties disappear and the pursuit of knowledge as joyful as that of pleasure.
I have heard hypnotism, with regard to fascination, spoken of with great apprehension. "It is dreadful," said one to me, "to think of anybody's being able to exercise such an influence on anyone." And yet, widely known as it is, instances of its abuse are very rare. Thus, when Cremation was first discussed, it was warmly opposed, because somebody might be poisoned, and then, the body being burned, there could be no autopsy! Nature has decreed some drawback to the best things; nothing is perfect. But to balance the immense benefits latent in suggestion against the problematic abuses is like condemning the ship because a bucket of tar has been spilt on the deck.
Sincere kindness and respect, which are allied unto identity, are the best or surest key to love, and they in turn are allied to fascination. Here I might observe that the action of the eye, which is a silent speech of emotion, has always been regarded as powerful in fascination, but those who are not by nature gifted with it cannot use it to much good purpose. That emotional, susceptible subjects ready to receive suggestion can be put to sleep or made to imagine anything terrible regarding anybody's glance is very true, just as an ignorant Italian will believe of any man that he has the malocchio if he be told so, whence came the idea that Pope Gregory XVI had the evil eye. But where there is sincere kindly feeling it makes itself felt in a sympathetic nature by what is popularly called magic, only because it is not understood. The enchantment lies in this, that unconscious cerebration, or the power (or powers), who are always acting in us, effect many curious and very subtle mental phenomena, all of which they do not confide to the common-sense waking judgment or Reason, simply because the latter is almost entirely occupied with common worldly subjects. It is as if someone whose whole attention and interest had been at all times given to some plain hard drudgery, should be called on to review or write a book of exquisitely subtle poetry. It is, indeed, almost sadly touching to reflect how this innocent and beautiful faculty of recognizing what is good, is really acting perhaps in evil and merely worldly minds all in vain, and all unknown to them. The more the conscious waking-judgment has been trained to recognize goodness, the more will the hidden water-fairies rise above the surface, as it were, to the sunshine. So it comes that true kindly feeling is recognized by sympathy, and those who would be loved, cannot do better than make themselves truly and perfectly kind by forethought and will, and with this the process of self-hypnotism will be a great aid. For it is not more by winning others to us, than in willing ourselves to them that true Love consists.
Love or trusting sympathy from any human being, however humble, is the most charming thing in life, and it ought to be the main object of existence. Yet there are thousands all round us, yes, many among our friends or acquaintances, who live and die without ever having known it, because in their egotism and folly they conceive of close relations as founded on personal power, interest or the weakness of others. The only fascination which such people can ever exercise is that of the low and devilish kind, the influence of the cat on the mouse, the eye of the snake on the bird, which in the end degrades them into deeper evil. That there are such people, and that they really make captive and oppress weaker minds, by suggestion, is true; the marvel being that so few find it out.
But in proportion as this kind of fascination is vile and mean, that which may be called altruistic or sympathetic attraction, or Enchantment, is noble and pure, because it acquires strength in proportion to the purity and beauty of the soul or will which inspires it. It is as real and has as much power, and can be exercised by any honest person whatever with wonderful effect, even to the performing what are popularly called "miracles," which only means wonderful works beyond our power of explanation. But this kind of fascination is little understood as yet, simply because it is based on purity, morality and light, and hitherto the seekers for occult mysteries have been chiefly occupied with the gloomy and mock-diabolical rubbish of old tradition, instead of scientific investigation of our minds and brains.
There is also in truth a Fascination by means of the Voice, which has in it a much deeper and stronger power or action than that of merely sweet sound as of an instrument. The Jesuit, GASPAR SCHOTT, in his Magio Medica treats of Fascination as twofold: De Fascinatione per Visunt et Vocem. I have found among Italian witches as with Red Indian wizards, every magical operation depended on an incantation, and every incantation on the feeling, intonation, or manner in which it is sung. Thus near Rome any peasant overhearing a scongiurasione would recognize it from the sound alone.
Anyone, male or female, can have a deep, rich voice by simply subduing and training it, and very rarely raising it to a high pitch. Nota bene that the less this is affected the more effective it will be. There are many, especially women, who speak, as it were, all time in italics, when they do not set their speech in small caps or displayed large capitals. The result of this, as regards sound, is the so-called nasal voice, which is very much like caterwauling, and I need not say that there is no fascination in it on the contrary its tendency is to destroy any other kind of attraction. It is generally far more due to an ill-trained, unregulated, excitable, nervous temperament than to any other cause.
The training the voice to a subdued state "like music in its softest key," or to rich, deep tones, though it be done artificially, has an extraordinary effect on the character and on others. It is associated with a well-trained mind and one gifted with self-control. One of the richest voices to which I ever listened was that of the poet TENNYSON. I can remember another man of marvelous mind, vast learning, and esthetic-poetic power who also had one of those voices which exercised great influence on all who heard it.
There is an amusing parallel as regards nasal-screaming voices in the fact that a donkey cannot bray unless he at the same time lifts his tail but if the tail be tied down, the beast must be silent. So the man or woman, whose voice like that of the erl-king's is "ghostly shrill as the wind in the porch of a ruined church," always raise their tones with their temper, but if we keep the former down by training, the latter cannot rise.
I once asked a very talented lady teacher of Elocution in Philadelphia if she regarded shrill voices as incurable. She replied that they invariably yielded to instruction and training. Children under no domestic restraint who were allowed to scream out and dispute on all occasions and were never corrected in intonation, generally had vulgar voices.
A good voice acts very evidently on the latent powers of the mind, and impresses the esthetic sense, even when it is unheeded by the conscious judgment. Many a clergyman makes a deep impression by his voice alone. And why? Certainly not by appealing to the reason. Therefore it is well to be able to fascinate with the voice. Now, nota bene as almost every human being can speak in a soft or well-toned voice, "at least, subdued unto a temperate tone" just as long as he or she chooses to do it, it follows that with foresight, aided by suggestion, or continued will, we can all acquire this enviable accomplishment.
To end this chapter with a curious bit of appropriate folk-lore, I would record that while Saxo Grammaticus, Olaus Magnus, and a host of other Norsemen have left legends to prove that there were sorcerers who by magic of the soft and wondrous voice could charm and capture men of the sword, so the Jesuit ATHANASIUS KIRCHER, declares that on the seventeenth day of May, 1638, he, going from Messina in a boat, witnessed with his own eyes the capture not of swordsmen but of sundry xiphi, or sword-fish, by means of a melodiously chanted charm, the words whereof he noted down as follows:
"Mammassudi di pajanu,
Palletu di pajanu,
Pallettu di pajanu,
Palè la stagneta.
Pro nastu varitu pressu du
Visu, e da terra!"
Of which words Kircher declares that they are probably of mingled corrupt Greek and ancient Sicilian, but that whatever they are, they certainly are admirable for the catching of fish.
This is taken from Charles G. Leland's The Mystic Will.
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